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If you’re driving in Washington state this summer, something odd may happen. While you’re at a stoplight, you may encounter people waring orange vests, with signs saying “Paid Voluntary Survey,” and they may ask you if you want to take blood, saliva and breath tests for marijuana. They’ll give you 60 bucks if you say yes.
These government-hired survey teams have already begun asking hundreds of Washington state motorists to provide breath, saliva and blood samples, reports Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times, and they’ll be asking questions, too.
The voluntary roadside surveys are a federally funded project to give police and safety agencies a better idea of how many Washingtonians drive high, according to officials. National agencies are working with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which is in hurry-up mode to get the data before retail marijuana stores open in Washington later this summer.
A recent poll in Florida have shown support for medical marijuana at almost 90 percent. The medicinal cannabis question on the ballot could even affect the gubernatorial race. But in a move of questionable political wisdom, deep-pocketed Republicans have raised more than $7.7 million to fight Amendment 2, a proposal to allow doctors to authorize seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana.
The latest financial reports from the two biggest groups fighting medicinal cannabis in the Sunshine State show that the Drug Free Florida campaign alone has raised $2.7 million, including a single $2.5 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP wheeler dealer Sheldon Adelson, reports Bill Cotterell of Reuters.
Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the richest men in the world, and not coincidentally, one of the biggest donors to the Republican Party, reports Matt Ferner at The Huffington Post. He spent $150 million supporting GOP candidates in the 2012 elections — almost all of whom lost.
South Carolina voters, on a non-binding ballot question in the Democratic Primary, favored the legalizing of marijuana for medical purposes by a whopping 3-to-1 margin, 75 percent to 25 percent, in Tuesday’s voting.
Since the referendum question was non-binding, the vote doesn’t mean medical marijuana will become legal; it just means Democratic voters were giving direction to their lawmakers.
“Think of it as kind of a general survey,” said South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison, reports John Monk at Myrtle Beach Online. “Our House Democratic Caucus wanted to get a good sense of where Democrats were on those particular issues and how to draw up that legislation.”
Denver would just love to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. It has historically been a popular city for conventions; the Mile High City’s scenic vistas and tourist attractions make it a fun place to visit. But that “High” thing is the hang, you see: Denver is also the poster child for legal recreational marijuana since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64.
“Well, big deal,” you may be thinking. “The voters expressed their will at the ballot box; isn’t that how American democracy works?” Not so fast, Grasshopper. While a majority of Americans now approve of cannabis legalization, just 36 percent of Republicans agree with that position.
That means an overwhelming two-thirds of GOP members are against legalizing pot.
A lawsuit was filed on June 9 in Denver District Court by activist attorney Robert J. Corry, Jr., seeking to permanently end Colorado’s marijuana taxes on the grounds that paying them violates a citizen’s Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination — since marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Corry goes beyond that, accusing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of violating the federal “Kingpin” statute (the federal law against operating “continual criminal enterprises”) for collecting taxes on a federally illegal substance, reports Denver Direct.
The complaint was filed on behalf of an unnamed licensed medical and recreational marijuana store, as well as the “No Over Taxation” issue committee, which worked against Proposition AA, a marijuana tax issue approved by Colorado voters last year. Also signing onto the complaint were Kathleen Chippi, Larisa Bolivar, Miguel Lopez and William Chengelis.
A small, family-owned medical marijuana company in Colorado, TinctureBell, on Wednesday responded to allegations made by the Hershey Company in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, that TinctureBelle is selling marijuana-infused candies that resemble Hershey products.
“The lawsuit from Hershey came as a huge surprise to us,” said TinctureBelle President Char Mayes, “because we changed our entire label line approximately six months ago, long before these allegations surfaced last week. Our new packaging looks nothing like Hershey’s or anyone else’s.”
Hershey did not contact TinctureBelle before filing suit, according to Mayes. “The first we heard of it was from a reporter, who called last Thursday for a comment on Hershey’s lawsuit,” said Mayes.
With the first stores selling recreational marijuana expected to open in July, a dark cloud looms over implementation of cannabis legalization measure I-502 in Washington state: Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s legal opinion that municipalities can ban the supposedly legal pot shops. Now, a lawsuit has been brought by a man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in central Washington.
At least 10 counties and cities in the state have already banned marijuana businesses, reports Kirk Johnson at The New York Times. Sixty-nine more municipalities, and 12 counties, have instituted moratoriums on pot businesses, according to the Municipal Research and Services Center.
A man who was denied a license to sell marijuana in the central Washington town of Wenatchee, right in the middle of apple-growing country, is challenging the right of local governments to ban cannabis businesses, and also raising the possibility that the law legalizing marijuana could come under “sharp legal scrunity,” as the Times puts it.
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I love the cannabis community. Most of the people working in it have the best intentions and laudable goals. And the challenge facing those who wish to re-legalize cannabis is difficult and daunting enough without those in the movement inadvertently placing additional roadblocks in our own path.
One of those roadblocks seems to happen more and more often — and that’s arguing over word etymology and usage, of all things, rather than working to legalize the plant.
Yes, I’m talking about the great “marijuana/cannabis” controversy. Some activists get quite worked up about it, but any pejorative baggage surrounding the term “marijuana” is, at this point, really nothing more than an increasingly irrelevant historical footnote from the distant past.
There are those within the cannabis movement who will tell you with a straight face that the reason the plant is still illegal is because it is called “marijuana.” Such wild overreaching damages our credibility.
And you have to ask yourself: How much chance do we stand of changing the minds of the general public about cannabis, when we spend most of our energy fighting amongst ourselves about what to call the damn stuff?